Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) on Sunday doubled down on their regrets that both infrastructure bills weren’t passed before the Virginia governor race that Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe lost.
Appearing on CBS, Kaine argued that congressional Democrats “blew it” by not passing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better package before the Virginia election because it would have been a good “sell” for McAuliffe.
“The congressional Democrats have majorities in both houses, and the American public expects us to deliver,” Kaine said. “If we had done both of these bills in early October, Terry McAuliffe would have had so much to sell: Relief is coming in terms of lowering childcare costs, pre-kindergarten. There’s going to be infrastructure to hire people to fix our ports and our airports and improve our roads.”
Kaine added that the lack of passage for both bills led Virginia voters to become less incentivized to carry out McAuliffe’s victory.
“Instead, with a narrow majority, a lot of people start to think, ‘Let’s see, I can hold out for the one thing I most want, or I can hold out to kick out this one thing I don’t like,'” Kaine said. “And Democrats blew the timing.”
Kaine went on to claim that he and Warner told their colleagues to not “be the dithering and delaying party, be the doer party.”
“Folks didn’t wake up to it,” Kaine said. “They’re waking up to it now.”
Warner issued similar comments during an interview on CNN.
Asked whether McAuliffe could have won had Democrats passed infrastructure before the election, Warner replied “absolutely.”
“The voters of Virginia and the voters of America gave us the presidency, the Senate and the House,” Warner said. “They expected us to produce. They have been hearing about this bipartisan infrastructure bill for months.”
Pressed on whether he agrees with the notion that Democrats are responsible for McAuliffe’s defeat, Warner said that he wishes the House would have moved sooner on passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“But all of us know, I know as well, we need to pass the second half of the President’s agenda as well,” Warner said. “I wish we would have spent less time talking about top-line numbers and more time talking about what’s in it.”
Kaine and Warner’s recent comments on lamenting the lack of passage of either infrastructure bills before the Virginia election come just days after the House passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, following a deal between progressives and moderate to hold a vote on BIF and a procedural step for the BBB on Friday night.
Although Kaine and Warner argue that part of McAuliffe’s loss can be attributed to the failure to get both infrastructure bills before the Virginia election, some have expressed skepticism about the theory. Critics note that not only is McAuliffe fairly removed from Congress, but the effects of the infrastructure bills wouldn’t be evident immediately. They also point to centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-VA) and Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) role as hold outs of BBB with their demands for a lower topline and various issues with provisions in the package.
Days before the BIF’s passage on Friday, Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin beat McAuliffe by roughly two points in a state President Biden won by 10 points in 2020, making Youngkin the first Republican to win statewide in Virginia since 2009. Democrats’ loss in the Virginia governor’s race swiftly spurred a reckoning among Democrats ahead of next year’s midterm elections as they work to maintain control of Congress.